Living out here in California, I’ve already seen enough wildfires for a lifetime – scary stuff. The science of fire-fighting is essential to defeating these monsters of disaster. Surely if we can put a man on the moon, win WWII, win the Cold War, and defeat international terrorism (that last one is coming, it’s just taking a little extra time) then we should be able to tackle these intense wildfires which couple evil humans (arsonists) with Mother Nature. What if I said to you that I suspect there are additional components to the fire science equations when it comes to the intensity of these types of wildfires? Let me explain, and suggest we fund additional research.
As an example let me use the Blue Cut Wildfire in Mid-August of 2016 in San Bernardino County – The Los Angeles Time on August 18, 2016 had an interesting story about this titled; “‘We got our butts kicked,’ firefighters say as Blue Cut fire defies containment,” by Angel Jennings, Bettina Boxall and Paloma Esquivel noted that:
“All the ingredients were there. Dry heat, gusting winds in a mountain pass cloaked in dead grass and drought-shriveled chaparral. All it needed was a spark. It came at 10:36 Tuesday morning near Kenwood Avenue west of Interstate 15. The Blue Cut fire was born. ‘It all aligned. The wind, the fuel and the topography,’ said Capt. Howard Deets of the Mill Creek hotshot crew based in the San Bernardino National Forest. “When that happens there’s nothing you can do about it. You could throw the world’s fire-fighting resources at it and it’s just going to keep going.”
The Fire Captain suggests a perfect storm, but there may be more criteria involved. For instance, we are entering a Full-Moon Cycle, this changes the effects of gravity on flames and debris kicked up into the air by the flames, allowing it to travel further and thus, the fire can move faster. Also, consider the Solar Flare activity.
Okay so, consider this: We learned from SpaceWeather.com – that a “A co-rotating interaction region (CIR) is expected to hit Earth’s magnetic field on Aug. 19th. CIRs are transition zones between slow- and fast-moving solar wind streams. Shock waves and density gradients inside these regions often do a good job sparking auroras. NOAA forecasters say there is a 40% chance of G1-class geomagnetic storms when the CIR arrives.”
We know that such external forces will affect the characteristics of a wildfire in several ways, but to what extent we do not know, thus, we cannot guarantee that our Firestorm Supercomputer Algorithms are accurate. Until we know and quantify these additional components, our computer modeling cannot be assumed precise. Such research may also have drastic implications to Hurricane and Typhoon predictions, which may be research for another day with funding as well. We need to know.